Before you start looking at reinstalling Windows you need to back up your important data – just in case anything goes horribly wrong.
Reinstalling from Windows
If you are able to get into Windows then you should start off by putting your Windows CD into your CD-ROM drive. Close down the automatic pop-up screen that appears when the disk autoruns and then open Windows Explorer. Point explorer at your CD-ROM drive and in the root of the drive you will find a file called SETUP.EXE. Double-clicking this file will start the installation of Windows. Skip to ‘The reinstallation procedure’, below.Reinstalling from DOS
If you can’t get into Windows then you are going to need to use your boot disk to see your CD-ROM drive. You should have a boot disk already – if not then you should elsewhere in this article for information on creating one. Once you have this disk you should boot your computer with it in your floppy drive and restart your PC. Once the disk has booted, put the Windows CD in the CD-ROM drive, switch to the relevant drive (by typing the letter of the drive followed by a colon, such as D: or E:, and pressing [Return]) and then type SETUP.EXE and hit [Return]. Windows will now start reinstalling itself.
How to create a boot disk if you can’t get into Windows
Boot into DOS (press [F8] on startup to bring up the boot menu). Put a floppy in your drive and type format a: /s. This will create a bootable floppy disk. The next stage is the crunch point – you need to find the system-configuration file for your CD-ROM drive and copy it to your floppy disk.
Next you need to copy the Microsoft CD extension on to the floppy disk. Enter COPY C:\WINDOWS\ COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE A: and hit [Return]. If this file isn’t there, it’s corrupted, so you need to find it. To do this in DOS you should type DIR /S MSCDEX.EXE, to search your drive. Once you find it, copy it on to your boot disk.
Next, make your floppy recognise the CD drive when it boots by creating CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT. In DOS type A: to take you to the floppy drive. Next, type EDIT CONFIG.SYS. Type in device=< 'drivername'>.sys /D:mscd001, where 'driver name' is the name of the .SYS file from step two.
Save your CONFIG.SYS file. Next we need to create the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Create that file by typing EDIT AUTOEXEC.BAT. Once this file comes up you should type MSCDEX.EXE /d:mscd001. Save the changes out to your disk.
How to create partitions in DOS
FDISK is a powerful utility, and relatively straightforward to use. Remember that you’ll lose all your data as soon as you create a new set of partitions, and you’re away…
Boot from your floppy disk and make sure you can see your CD-ROM drive, as you are about to leave your old setup. Once happy, type FDISK to start Microsoft’s partitioning program.
Select option 3 to delete partitions and delete everything. Once you’ve done that you can create your partitions again. Select option 1 and then 1 again to create the primary partition to the size you specify.
The next step is to create your extended partition. Select option 1 followed by option 2 to start creating this second area. When prompted you should make the extended partition use all the space left.
The last step doesn’t actually create any logical partitions – you have to create these yourself in the extended partition. FDISK will automatically prompt you for the first one, just set it as big as you want.
Finally you should check that all the partitions are set up as you want them by selecting option 4 from the main menu again. Once happy with your setup you need to re-boot and then format your drives.
What you need
- 45 minutes of free time.
- Your Windows Product Key.
- Another blank floppy disk. Don’t forget!
First, insert your boot disk, switch on and ensure your PC is set up to boot from the floppy drive – if it isn’t, enter your BIOS, select your floppy drive as the first bootable drive, and save your changes and exit. You should be presented with a menu. Choose the option to start with CD-ROM support.
Next you choose your set-up options. ‘Typical’ is the normal choice, ‘Portable’ is for installing Windows on a laptop, ‘Compact’ saves disk space by not installing optional components and ‘Custom’ is ideally for advanced users. We’d recommend you choose Typical.
During the next stage of the installation Windows installs software drivers for any plug-and-play devices you have attached to your system. After that, various Control-Panel settings are decided. You need to choose your geographical location in the Date and Time Properties dialog box.
Next you need to reinstall your monitor drivers. The Add New Hardware wizard will appear and try to locate drivers for your monitor. If you’ve got them on CD or floppy then put the disk in now and select Let Windows Search for Drivers. If you haven’t got any handy then you can choose Display a list of drivers in a specific location. Choose the default plug-and-play monitor.
The default monitor will get you into Windows, but limit you to 640x480 screen size with 16 colours. Once you’ve installed your monitor driver, install your graphics-card drivers. That’s it, Windows is reinstalled! Now it’s time to turn to move on into the post-install phase…
Finally, your installation is complete and you’ve got a working version of Windows. A quick look at your Windows folder will probably reveal it’s about half the size it used to be, which means your PC is not only going to run faster, Finalising hardware settings
To find out exactly what Windows thinks you’ve got installed, right-click on the My Computer icon and choose Properties. This will bring up the System Properties dialog box. Switch to the Device Manager tab and have a look to see if all your hardware is listed.
If a device has a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark next to it then it’s got a problem. Highlight the device and click Properties to get more information about what’s wrong. It’s usually the case that reinstalling the software drivers from your backups will solve the problem. Occasionally, if Windows is being really stubborn, you might need to remove the device from your hardware profile altogether and reinstall it through the Add New Hardware Control Panel before it starts to work.
. It’s all over
, you now have a fresh installation of Windows. Once you’ve set your system up you might like to consider creating a drive image. Next time you want to reinstall Windows you simply copy this back on to your C: drive – this gets the job done in half the time and without the worry of setting it all up again. Reinstalling your hardware
Run Add New Hardware from the Control Panel and Windows searches for plug-and-play devices that aren’t properly installed, producing a list like this.